Cork man loses appeal against eight-year sentence for stabbing mother's friend during hostage situation

Cork man loses appeal against eight-year sentence for stabbing mother's friend during hostage situation
Bernard Ring at Cork District Court in 2016. Picture: Denis Minihane.

A MAN who barricaded himself into his mother’s house and stabbed her friend multiple times before armed gardaí were forced to intervene, has lost an appeal against the severity of his eight-year jail term.

Bernard Ring (31), of Kilbarry Place, Farranree, in Cork, pleaded guilty to assaulting John Joe Nevin causing harm and to falsely imprisoning Mr Nevin at his mother’s house at St Mary’s Avenue, St Mary’s Road, in Cork on September 21st, 2016.

Ring also pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to possessing a dumbbell, a gas canister, a glass mirror and a knife in a manner likely to intimidate at his mother’s house on the same occasion.

He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment with the final two years suspended by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin on July 12, 2017, which was upheld by the Court of Appeal today/yesterday(MONDAY).

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said Ring was under the influence of benzodiazepine, and there was evidence that alcohol had been consumed, when his mother, Rosarie Ring, brought her friend John Joe Nevin to the house, after a night socialising.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the presence of Ring at the home, whom Mr Nevin knew, was the “cause of some concern” to Mr Nevin. As he went to leave, Ring pulled him back and ordered him upstairs where he sat on the bed. Ring left the room for a brief period but returned moments later with a knife. He closed the door and pulled a wardrobe across, preventing anybody from exiting.

Mr Justice Birmingham said Ring was waving the knife around, threatening Mr Nevin that he wouldn’t be leaving the house alive. Ring stabbed Mr Nevin in the left leg, left knee and then began stabbing him randomly about the body, striking his right forearm, left hand and one of his fingers.

He also “skinned” the injured party across the forehead and shouted, “I will finish you” in such a way that Mr Nevin feared for his life.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the incident started shortly after midnight and, at 4.45am gardaí became aware a possible hostage situation was developing at the house. On arrival, they noticed the front door had been barricaded from inside using a couch.

A trained hostage negotiator was called for, but Ring wouldn’t negotiate.

When members of the armed Regional Support Unit forced their way into the house, Ring threw a gas canister down the stairs, as well as a dumbbell and mirrors. He threatened gardaí that he was going to cause them brain damage by throwing items at them. He resisted arrest but was brought under control with incapacitant spray.

The sentencing judge said it was an “extremely serious set of incidents”, but Ring provided no explanation for why he did what he did, notwithstanding his claim of remorse. The sentencing judge said he couldn’t explain or understand why Mr Nevin was singled out on the night.

Mr Justice Birmingham said Ring had 11 previous convictions, including two for assault causing harm, for which he received jail terms of two years and four years respectively. He was the father of three young children and had a good employment record in the cosntruction sector.

He said it was a very serious offence, and if 12 or 12-and-a-half years was selected as a headline sentence, it could not have been so severe as to be considered outside the available range.

Ring had pleaded guilty, but there was little alternative open to him, the judge said, as the incident was brought to an end by the entry of the Regional Support Unit onto the crime scene.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, said the ultimate sentence was within the available range. No error could be identified and the appeal was therefore dismissed.

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